ISLETON (CBS13) – On the eve of Cesar Chavez Day a local organization is making a major push to get farmworkers vaccinated in Sacramento County.
La Familia Council Center with help from several local partners hosted their first drive-thru vaccination clinic in Isleton, with more than 200 people showing up to get a shot.READ MORE: Firefighters Make All-Out Effort to Contain Explosive River Fire Near Colfax
It’s the day Esperanza Marvilla has been waiting for, watching carloads of people get a one-time dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
“We are so happy, we are overjoyed, explained Esperanza.
Esperanza and her husband, Benjamin, became farmworkers more than 40 years. When the pandemic started, the couple and their entire family, who also works in agriculture, became concerned with the possibility they would get sick.
“All the people have to work, there is no choice, with a pandemic or without a pandemic, we are always working and we are always working together,” explained Esperanza.
“I was very scared that I would get sick because we are around so many people,” said Benjamin.
Since the pandemic started, 11 people in their family have tested positive, luckily they have not.
“The biggest fear was getting sick, working and getting sick and have to go back and live with family and have no job and have nothing to eat, we have to work,” said Benjamin.
Their story just one of many out of more than 200 people vaccinated Tuesday. Karina Romero also works as a farmworker. She tested positive for COVID last winter. Now, she says she is happy to have a sense of protection.
“I feel good, I feel safe,” she said.READ MORE: 'Everything Is Gone': Colfax Residents Lose Homes In Devastating River Fire
The pop-up clinic staffed more than 60 volunteers to help with vaccination efforts. Members of Health Impact, Sacramento Native American Health Center, Angles in the Fields, First 5 Sacramento, and the Sacramento County Department of Public Health all helped coordinate the event. Executive Director of La Familia, Rachel Rios, says they are hoping to break barriers by bringing more vaccines to rural communities in Sacramento County.
“It is very confusing to figure out where is the site, when is the site. So, if we can get to a place where have regular vaccines at trusted sites then we think community members will start going there,” she said. “They have higher rates of COVID and less access to being able to understand the testing process and the tiers, so it’s so important we bring it to them,” Rios said.
The push for more equity comes on the eve of Cesar Chavez Day.
“We felt it was really important to honor the work that he did to really lift up farmworkers, Rios explained.
Rios cited a UC Berkley University study analyzing infection rates of agricultural workers in California. The study showed the positivity rates in farmer workers are 13% compared to 5% of the general population.
Daniel Wilson owns Kay Dix, a pear and cherry farm-turned-drive-thru vaccination site. He employs anywhere from 125 to more than 1,000 workers every year but found few had access.
“We don’t want people sick, it’s that simple. We felt this was a way of getting a lot of people done quickly,” he explained. “A lot of the community we work with was not getting vaccinated quickly and appropriately and if we are going to get this done, then we need to get it done,” said Wilson.
No longer afraid of going back to work, Benjamin is now hoping his friends will soon have the same opportunity.
“Before I was afraid and now my only fear is my coworkers that haven’t gotten the vaccine yet,” he said.MORE NEWS: Search For Bear Injured In Tamarack Fire Continues After Wildlife Rescue Escape
Starting April 1, La Familia will begin offering weekly vaccination clinics at their Maple Neighborhood Center every Thursday from 1 pm – 4 pm. Rios said they are also working with the county to provide more mobile clinics on a regular basis.